The second episode of the new Season of Doctor Who ventured into familiar territory with the Daleks returning as the episode’s villains. So how do you make one of the oldest Dr Who villains still relevant? By now the Daleks basically equal defeat. We know how the stories go: exterminate, a chance to stop it, exterminate again. There have been a few times when it looked like the Daleks might turn over a new leaf (ie: The Daleks Take Manhattan); but these always end with more ‘extermination’ and things returning to normal – except this time.
What The Doctor might see as a loss is actually the greatest victory against the Daleks yet. Additionally, having the return of the Doctor’s most famous enemy not only helped ground this new Doctor in tradition; but also began to elaborate upon just who this new ‘darker’ Doctor is. There has always been an interesting juxtaposition between the Daleks and the Doctor – or Time Lords in general. Though it is in this episode where we finally see things spell out like never before.
Am I A Good Man?
Continuing the theme from the last episode, each antagonist this season seems to reflect something of the new doctor and his turmoil. Last time we got a glimpse at the Doctor’s loneliness and ‘loss of self’; but this time around we saw the Doctor’s potential for being something else than he’s always been.
By now the Daleks are the Daleks, and the Doctor is the Doctor; but “Into the Dalek” gave us something different. If a Dalek can become something ‘different’, then so too can the Doctor; but what will/has he become? The Doctor will wrestle with this question of ‘am I a good man’ for most of the season; and we just got our first taste of it.
In “Into the Dalek, the Doctor sees a chance to change things thanks to Clara, who points out that malfunction or not a Dalek still changed for the better. Spurred by this chance to do the impossible – to turn ‘pure evil’ good – the Doctor tries to merge minds with the Dalek in order to reveal hidden/repressed feelings. Though it wasn’t just the Dalek who had his mind opened; but the Doctor as well.
When Dalek first sees into the Doctor’s mind, he sees beauty; but then – like the Doctor is trying to do – the Dalek sees past these apparent feelings and discovers hatred. So much hatred. Just like when the Doctor told the Clockwork Cyborg ‘you changed your face so many time you can’t even remember the real you’; the Doctor is taken back by this unintended revelation.
A “Good” Dalek:
This isn’t the first time we’ve had the Doctor compared to a Dalek. We ever heard about how the Time Lords themselves weren’t much different towards the end of the Time War. On some occasions we even heard how the Doctor would make a ‘good Dalek’; but when it’s said in this episode, it means something different.
The Doctor wanted to make a ‘Good Dalek’ in the sense that it’d be moral – rather than being ‘good’ at being a Dalek. So when ‘Rusty the Dalek’ decided to exterminate the other Daleks, the Doctor saw this as a failure since it’s affinity for ‘exterminating’ was left unchanged. To make matters worse, not only did the Doctor fail at opening the Dalek’s minds to thoughts beyond exterminating; but the Doctor himself was called a “Good Dalek”. Though as I hinted at earlier, these aren’t necessarily bad things.
Does Rusty the Dalek still want to exterminate? Yes; but now he’s exterminating those who oppose life. This might make Rusty a ‘good Dalek’ in some regards; but not others since it’s actions still come out of hatred and destruction. So when Rusty called the Doctor a ‘Good Dalek’, the Doctor fears that maybe he isn’t such a good man after all; but Rusty didn’t mean it like other Daleks before.
The Doctor wanted to make a Good Dalek, as in one who has so much hate but still appreciates life and fights for things from a moral basis. THIS is what Rusty means when he calls the Doctor a ‘Good Dalek’; and Clara even confirms this in the end. The Doctor tries to be good; and that’s what counts. He doesn’t exterminate for the sake of exterminating; but rather only when necessary and to protect other.
3 Meanings of a ‘Good Dalek’:
- – Good at being a Dalek (most Daleks)
- – a Dalek who doesn’t kill people, but rather fights against other Daleks (Rusty)
- – a Dalek who sees past the hatred and does things because they’re right (The Doctor)
Clara As Carer:
One thing that I enjoy about Clara – especially this Season – is how she is able to stand perfectly on par with the Doctor. She doesn’t hog the spotlight like the Ponds; nor is she the damsel in distress. She perfectly balances the Doctor while not being defined by her relationship with him; and this episode demonstrated that well.
In many situations, it seems like The Doctor needs Clara more than she needs him; but overall it is still a very symbiotic relationship. The Doctor provides Clara with her hobby – as she joked this episode – while it is Clara’s role to keep the Doctor grounded. Though most importantly, Clara cares so the Doctor doesn’t. It is through this role that she is able to see the silver lining in Rusty the Dalek’s situation.
Though regardless of who has what role, their banter is spot on. It’s not that romantically directed; but just generally snarky – like the 9th Doctor or Donna Noble. Though unlike these two previous likenesses – who if these two were together, NOTHING would get done – Twelve and Clara actually accomplish quite a lot. They are driven individuals who antagonize each other quite a bit; but they never lose sight of the matter at hand. As for who Clara is/might become romantically involved with, that’s another story entirely.
Wish You Hadn’t Been A Soldier:
Let’s face it; the Doctor has never been a fan of guns. So after an entire episode of trigger happy soldiers shooting anything and anyone, the Doctor certainly had enough of anyone in the military. Though while the Doctor feels one way, Clara seems to be starting to feel another. We saw the Doctor turn away one possible companion because she was a soldier; but what does this mean for Clara’s new work associate/possible love interest Danny Pink, who will most likely be joining as a companion at certain points this season?
Clara even points out that she doesn’t have a rule against soldiers; but she knows the Doctor’s rule might make things complicated in the future. Sure Danny’s killed not only in battle; but also outside of battle as well it seems; but he is terribly haunted by it. We don’t know what Danny did; but it’s apparently shocking enough to make him completely withdraw from most social contact. He enjoys people; but once he gets in a mood he just want to keep to himself.
In a sense, Danny Pink isn’t too different from the doctor himself. He might not always be perfectly ‘good’; but he tries to be. I’m interested in seeing how Danny and the Doctor will interact. Both can have very intense personalities; but both are also ridden with regrets. Hopefully Danny will be an overall strong character and not a meh tag along like Rory or Micky were in the beginning. Two companions is a weird dynamic sometimes; but hopefully Danny Pink ends up being a strong/deep ally who complements both Clara and the Doctor well.
The Mysterious Missy Reappears:
It certainly wasn’t as long as her appearance last episode; but the mysterious Missy did indeed pop up once again in this episode. After one of the soldiers died heroically at the hands of the Dalek’s ‘antibodies’; we then saw her appear almost instantaneously in an elaborately decorated room with Missy welcoming her to ‘heaven. So what can we learn from this scene?
Well as I said already, this was a brief scene. What we learned wasn’t exactly in what was said; but rather in her consistency. Once again we saw Missy appear to someone who we know died. Sure the Clockwork Cyborg could have been rebuilt; but that couldn’t really be said for a vaporized person. We also saw both deaths, so there’s no chance they were rescued nano-seconds beforehand like the Doctor did at the start of this episode.
This all further supports my theory from last week:
Panda Theory Time:
Perhaps Missy is an incarnation of ‘Death’ itself. And she thinks the Doctor is her “boyfriend” because he’s playing hard to get. For all intensive purposes, the Doctor should have died at Trenzelor; but instead he was spaced and got another set of regenerations. If there were a manifestation of ‘Death’, he/she would feel cheated, which could lead to her intense drive to stopping the Doctor. As for why she needs Clara and the Doctor together, if Clara went into the Doctor’s timeline then Death would need them both together in order to stop them – so that Clara couldn’t pop up and save the day since she’s already in the trap.
After all this, it certainly looks like Missy does have dominion over those who die – or at the very least some connection to an ‘afterlife’.
I have to say that I’m pretty impressed with this season thus far. Between each antagonist representing an aspect of the new Doctor’s struggle and Missy’s continuing cameos leading up to something big, this season seems to be going somewhere. There’s no convoluted plots or glaring continuing errors for the sake of being clever. It all seems pretty fun and straightforward, which is what Doctor Who should be!
Capaldi is showing himself more and more to be an excellent choice; and even the new opening theme is growing on me. So let’s just hope the season keeps going just like this; and Moffat doesn’t throw in a massive WTF curveball.